Pep Guardiola: Next season will be tougher for Manchester City
City had already been confirmed as the division’s winners last month and yesterday was supposed to be the day they added exclamation marks, with three Premier League records in their sights.
Yet a 0-0 home draw with Huddersfield meant Guardiola’s side were unable to set new benchmarks for the most points, goals and wins in history.
Guardiola stressed this stalemate was an indication of how challenging it will be to defend their crown.
“The game showed me how difficult everything is,” he said. “Sometimes people expect, ‘Oh, it’s so easy’. Huddersfield come here, play defensively, almost perfect, a lot of credit for what they have done.
“It looks easy when you’ve won a lot of games – it’s so tough and next season will be tougher because the opponents want to beat you. Maybe we will be a little bit relaxed and you have to be focused if you want to maintain what we have done this season.
“Help us to understand, this game for example, how difficult it will be next season. Sport is like this, it’s so complicated.”
This was the first of a final three-game stretch that had many fearing for Huddersfield’s top-flight status, with a trip to Chelsea and a home fixture with Arsenal to follow.
Few gave them a chance of stopping City and manager David Wagner lavished praise on his players for proving them wrong and moving three points clear of the bottom three.
“In football – and everybody who supports Huddersfield Town knows this – sometimes the impossible is possible,” the German declared. “This looked impossible before kick-off, but the players have done it and made the impossible possible.”
Chelsea boosted their hopes of Champions League qualification as Olivier Giroud’s first-half header earned a 1-0 win over Liverpool, leaving Antonio Conte’s Blues two points behind their London rivals with two games to go.
Liverpool have work to do to secure their place in Europe’s elite competition as an intense contest in stifling heat proved too much at the end of a week in which Jurgen Klopp’s men advanced to the Champions League final. However, victory against Brighton next Sunday would secure Liverpool’s top four place, despite Klopp’s first loss in six meetings against Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s players shrugged off a disappointing campaign to bring a rousing conclusion to Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the Emirates Stadium with a 5-0 win over Burnley.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed the first and last goals of the game while Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi also scored to sink a side for whom European football is already assured.
Wenger was awarded Arsenal’s golden “Invincibles” Premier League trophy as he bowed out. The 68-year-old will step down as manager at the end of the season, ending a tenure of almost 22 years.
Former goalkeeper Bob Wilson made a speech and awarded the 68-year-old with his commemorative gold Premier League trophy.
“He changed the face of football in this country,” Wilson said.“This is Arsene Wenger, the greatest manager we have ever had.”
Wenger, pictured, who has been keen to keep any celebrations or tributes down to a minimum, took the microphone and started by offering his best wishes to former adversary Sir Alex Ferguson, the ex-Manchester United boss in intensive care after undergoing emergency surgery following a brain haemorrhage.
He went on to say: “Thank you for having me for such a long time, I know that is not easy but above all I am like you – I am an Arsenal fan.
“That means this is more than just watching football, it is a way of life, it is about caring the beautiful game, the values we cherish and something that goes through all of our bodies, through every cell of our body.
“I would like to thank everyone at the club, who makes it so special. Really push to support these players, the staff who remains. For me this group of players has a special quality, not only on the pitch but off the pitch. Follow this team and support them because they deserve it.
“I’d like to finish with one simple word – I will miss you. I hope to see you soon, well done, goodbye.”